I recently was able to take a whirlwind long weekend trip to Las Vegas with my husband. We had a fantastic time, checking off some bucket list items and doing some of my favorite things (outside of triathlon).
I love clubbing and can’t imagine a time when I don’t strongly desire dancing to a thumping beat. But each time I go to dance the days or nights away (preferably days as I get older), I am more aware of my appearance. This time, I recognized that although I am well educated on the pervasive influence of diet culture and the lies it tells us, I easily fall victim to it. I desire to accept my wrinkles and blemishes, but I still use products to minimize or erase them. I want to believe that beauty and significance aren’t synonymous with youth, but I feel and know that this struggle is real for myself and many women.
Sigh. I still give so many f*cks, even though I don’t want to.
(Men—don’t stop reading! This is an important message for you to hear as well. You likely have similar struggles, and you can gain awareness to be able to help your partners, daughters, sisters, mothers, etc)
It pisses me off that our culture is so hard on women. And as I grow in wisdom, I see that the work has to not only be done within all of us as individuals to reject this way of thinking, but we must also be intentional on being part of a movement to shift the culture. We can questionthe idea that in order to be healthy you must be thin. As athletes we can benefit from considering how our bodies react and feel rather than how much they weigh, or how they look. We can be suspicious of the marketing or sales infiltration of “shoulds” from so many sources.
I get that in so many ways it feels like an uphill battle. And I don’t personally plan to go completely off the grid, so I know that my perception of my appearance will continue to be influenced by our culture. But I do desire to be even more comfortable in my own skin. I have come a long way, and yet there are still many f*cks I just don’t want to give.
Do you also sincerely want to give less f*cks? Although I am not a graduate of this process (and I doubt I every will be), I can offer some steps that are working for me.
Step #1 Learn how to deeply connect with you. Admit to yourself and others how you really feel. Practice mindfulness, remove distractions and spend some time alone to check in with yourself. Work toward owning how you feel and deciding what you want to care about. (And know that this is constantly changing and evolving).
This is not a message urging you to stop caring about your body or your appearance. Moreover, I want to encourage you to consider the impact that marketing messaging has on you when you make decisions. Then care about what you sincerely want to care about and navigate the rest in a way that honors your values. It is not about right versus wrong!
For example— I really love exploring fashion. I enjoy putting together fun outfits for occasions or getting dressed for the day. It is truly a form of creative expression for me, that is not impacted (much) by the opinions of others. But, I don’t like wearing make-up. So, most days I don’t. I am well aware that marketers tell me that I could look more awake, youthful, and beautiful by painting on a full face every day and/or for special occasions. But I just don’t give a f*ck.
Step #2 Take stock in how you have grown in this area. AKA- give your self some credit!
You likely do give less f*cks in many areas of life. Make a list. Acknowledge where you are in this process and how you have grown. Consider how this freed up energy to give to other areas of your life. Think about the things you have tried or the experiences you have had by getting out of your own head and being present in the world.
Some quick things that are on my list:
- As an athlete I focus more than ever on how I feel and what I need, rather than how my actual weight could be impacting my performance. I encourage my athletes to do the same. I take opportunities to learn how to work with my changing and aging body, rather than spend the energy disliking it.
- When I enjoy myself by the pool I am not fighting with my swim suit to make sure I look my best. I think less critically of myself, compare less, and have less judgmental thoughts overall.
- I am not as critical of myself in photos.
Step #3 Keep personally moving toward truly giving less f*cks, and at the same time consider how you can help make a bigger impact for all. Stand up against messaging that does not serve women. Support other women by being open to thinking differently and helping reduce stigmas. Question the motives of marketers and call them out when you sense bullshit.
Move toward doing what you want, rather than what you think is dictated to you. Connect with and support other women doing the same.
This message may feel a little oversimplified to you, and I can admit that it really is. But I wanted to write it anyway, to hopefully reach anyone who is spinning on giving so many f*cks that you feel stalled in your life. I want you to know that you are not alone.
It is NOT as easy as reading this blog and simply making a decision. Although most of the cultural influence is admittedly not our doing, we can still push for change. Start with getting to know you. Then give all the f*cks you want to give, and work to forget about the rest.